Nathan Leal Broken Back Update 1


Nathan Broken Back Update 1

It is been a few days since my Emergency Room visit, so I thought I would share an update. First, thank you for the prayers. We appreciate it because we are facing a new kind of battle. I do not have a script for this. This is all new. I have never had an injury like this before. The last time I broke a bone was in the sixth grade. It was my right forearm. I was young. It was no big deal. And now here I am, 54 years old with an injury I never thought I would have.

But who does?

I do not think anyone anticipates life changing injuries or accidents, but I guess at some point, everyone will have their turn, and my prayer is that while it is my turn, the Lord will be glorified.

Why did it happen?

A lot of people are probably asking, “why?”
… “Why did you break your back Nathan?”

Some may be wondering…
… “What did you do wrong?”

Some may have decided…
… “God must be punishing you.”

Others are wondering if it’s a prophetic sign. Some have asked, “Is God using you as a prophetic object lesson?”

To which I have answered, “I dunno.” Because I don’t know. But I do know one thing, I am going to trust Him, no matter what. And at this point in time, all that I can say is, “I know that my Redeemer liveth.”

I am going to keep trusting Him. If Jesus learned obedience through suffering, then it is going to be okay. And maybe on the other side of this new chapter, I will gain wisdom, knowledge, and compassion that I didn’t have.

All things work together for good for those who love God, and for those who are called according to His purpose. So it is okay Lord. Let Your will be done.


Sometimes it is about purging folks. And God knows the church could use some purging. Jesus wants a church that is without spot or wrinkle. So to get us ready, from time to time, Jesus will have to prune us.

“All of us Nathan?”

Well, if you were to ask me, here is my highly educated theological answer – I would say that a portion of the good folks need to be pruned and portion of them probably could use a little bit of rattling to shake off the stuff that doesn’t need to be there.

So if this injury is meant to prune me or purge me, then all I ask is that He holds my hand and my family’s hand, (the Leal family.) As we walk through this.

The Summary

Some of you have asked for details on how this happened. First of all, I consider this, “a freak accident.” I am generally a very proactive person. I try to operate with the correct safety measures, I try to use the right tools, and I try to anticipate the worse. That is why this accident is so weird. It occurred with conditions that were not supposed to be there. We just came out of a fairly warm summer. Just weeks ago, temperatures hovered in the shade. But on the night of my fall, there was ice on the roof, and it was not supposed to be there, or at least it was not expected.

It happened on the late night of November 1st. We decided to watch the news before bedtime. And there she was, the weather gal… telling us about the first snow event of the season with a forecast of 12-18 inches.

“WOW!” My daughter Hannah screamed.

“By when?” Donna Asked.

I looked online, “By 5 am.” But then I thought, “Woa, that is soon.”

I was planning to clean the chimney in the coming week because the weather had forecast an “all clear,” for the coming week. Days before, no snow was on the horizon, but now here they were, forecasting a foot by the next morning. And worse, the chimney was not ready. When I say not ready, I mean that I like to clean the chimney at the beginning of the winter for safety.

No problem. I thought. I’ll just climb up and whip it out. Which is something I have done for the past few years. Cleaning our chimney from start to finish is usually only takes about 30 minutes. We have it down to a science.

So I propped up the ladder against the house and climbed up. The chimney is located on the other side of the peak. I approached it, but before I got to the top, I felt my pocket for the screwdriver that I used to get the chimney cap off.

Oops. I forgot it. I thought to myself, and then I wondered, Should I have Donna toss a screwdriver up here while I climb toward the chimney?

Another thought enveloped me. “No. Go down and get one.”

It was a strong thought. In fact, it overpowered me and caused me to want to climb back down.

I hollered down to Donna that I was coming down. So I started scooting down on my rear along the top of the shingles. All good. I was even in a safe posture. But then, the weirdest thing happened, before I knew it, it was like I was on a bobsled and the chute had been released. I took off!

I gained speed quickly. My entire body slid over the ice covered shingles with no resistance. I began going faster and faster. I leaned back trying to grab onto anything, there was nothing.

I continued downward. I approached the edge of the roof and saw the ladder. My foot hit it and it was tossed aside like a toothpick. I was moving too fast.

I went over the side and into the air. My body would have landed feet first had I stayed in that position, which resembled a baseball player sliding into second base. But my upper torso began to spin forward.

Uh oh, now I was going to face plant on the deck…but then something amazing happened! My body twisted around in the air and I landed flat on my back. I think I tried to put my left hand down to break the fall and ended up breaking my wrist.

Everything happened so fast.

The impact was like a wallop! The entire deck shook. I landed flat on my back, but then I bounced into the air and landed on my right side.

Donna screamed.


So there I lay. On the wet and icy deck. For the first few seconds I was in a daze. I was not sure what had happened. Things were hazy. I heard Donna crying. Then the pain arrived. I did not want to move, because I did not know my exact injuries. Donna wanted to touch me but I told her not to move me. Hannah came to the door and I told her, “Go get your brothers.”

Donna was trying to be brave. She told me later she was trying not to panic. She said, “how are you?”

I mumbled. I was dazed. I lifted my left arm and said, “My wrist is broken.”

Donna said, “how do you know?”

I answered, “I just know.” I stared my wrist as it swelled larger and larger. I continued. “…and I think my back is broken.”

I didn’t want to move. And I really couldn’t because any movement caused intense pain.

The boys arrived from the basement, I said, “Pray.”

Donna and the boys prayed three times. As I lay there for 45 minutes. I must have looked pretty bad, because when my 24 year old knelt down next to me, he began to weep.

I said to my boys, “We can do this. We are soldiers.”

Donna asked, “How do we move you? Do we call the ambulance?”

“Absolutely not.” I answered. “They are too expensive.”

An ambulance in our area costs around $1500 to $2000 and I was not going to pay that. My oldest son suggested a back board so they started looking for ways to fashion one.

Donna chimed in, “Here we will use this.” She draged a flat lawn chair from the yard. They had to make sure it would fit in the van, so they lay down all the seats and slid it in. It fit perfectly. They set it next to me, and on the count of three, they picked me up and set me on it. My wife and two boys were able to lift me and they did it fairly easily. Remember this for future reference.

After 45 minutes I was off the ground. It was a relief.

Donna suggested they that they carry me into the house while they gathered my clothes. The three of them picked up the lawn chair and moved me past the entrance. I was still laying sideways.

Donna said, “The ER is going to cut your clothes off, so we need to take these Carhart Overalls off of you. I was wearing my regular clothing under the overalls. I said, “Are you sure?”

She said, “I guarantee it.”

I was wearing a long John T-shirt. Donna said, ” they’re going to cut it off you.”

I did not believe her. Oh, silly me. But I blame my naïveté on the noggin joggin’ that I had just experienced.

As I lay there. I asked the Lord, “Why?… Why Lord?”

His answer was immediate. “Nathan. It could have been worse.”

I instantly saw it. Had I been on the other side of the roof where the chimney was, I would’ve slipped over that side. But that other side has a 30 foot drop, slim chances for survival. So God allowed me to fall off on the deck side, an 8 foot drop, which is much better than a 30 foot drop. I laid there and realized that God saved my life.

Wow. But there was more. The way that I landed on the deck minimized my injuries. I could have landed forward on my face which would’ve done a lot of damage with facial fractures, broken teeth and nose, possibly a concussion, fractured ribs, punctured lungs etc. The ER staff told me that my injuries could’ve been a lot worse, because they have seen a lot worse from similar accidents. So I praise God for that.

After gathering some clothes just in case, they picked me up and put me in the van. I was laying on my side the whole time. Each bump that the vehicle went over was excruciating.

We got to the hospital in ten minutes. The ER staff was waiting. It is a tiny Hospital in Newport, Washington.

When we look back it was kind of funny. Because out of the three hospital staff members, two of them were trying to drag our lawn chair out of the back of the van as if it were on wheels.

They kept tugging and pulling on it, but all it did was jerk against me and scrape the lawn chair along the van floor. I weigh 175 so I know my weight was not the issue. It just needed to be lifted.

My 24 year old son rolled his eyes when he saw this. He said, “You are going to have to lift him.” He was aggravated as he said it. I asked him later why he was so annoyed, he said he could not believe that the ER drop off had so much incompetence. Because it gets worse…

After tugging, jerking and sliding my makeshift lawn chair gurney, they finally heeded my son’s suggestion and lifted the lawn chair, and I came right out.
They set the chair on the ground then parked the gurney next to it. They lowered the gurney partially and then the three of them became mystified. They did not know how to transfer me to the gurney. They stood with their hands at their sides while they wondered what to do. One of them scratched their heads. But it didn’t help.

My son said, “just lift him.” They ignored him.

And then Donna suggested, “Just lift him.”

They ignored her because they were very busy in their huddle trying to come up with a different method.

By now, the pain was close to level ten. It had been about an hour since it first happened. I was laying on my right side trying to be as still as possible because any movement caused more pain. I was hoping I did not have any internal ruptures or bleeding. So I was being as still as I could.

But in my dazed condition, I could hear them talking. Mumbles. I imagined that since I was at a real hospital with a real emergency room, that they were going to bring out some hi-tec method of moving me, because after all, my back was broken!

So as I listened to them, I was expecting one of them to say, “Bring out the ‘gizmo!’”

One of the orderlies came over to me. As he approached me, I thought to myself, “Good. Here it comes. They are going to bring it out. Surely, he’s about to tell me about it… Their Hi-Tec device…. The game changer!… The gizmo…”

… But that never happened. And I guess it was not to be.

The orderly leaned in to whisper, “Uh sir, can you stand up off of this lawn chair, and then seat yourself on top of the gurney?”

I could not believe what I was hearing. Donna was annoyed, “What are you talking about? He can’t.” My oldest son looked at my other son. Both of them could not believe what they were hearing.

As for me, I just wanted to get into the hospital and get this thing going. So I held up my hand and said, “It is fine. I will do it.”

Donna said, “Nathan be careful.” I nodded.

I asked the orderlies to help me up and they supported under my arms as I moved over. I know woman can handle pain better than men, because they bear children. But I wonder if, what I was feeling would be considered up there in the pain scale even for a woman because — boy did it hurt.

I held my breath and moved over to the gurney. They wheeled me in.

The Injuries  

The first thing that they did was, you guessed it, took a pair of scissors and cut off my shirt. So Donna was right.

After several hours of CAT scans and x-rays, they were able to discover and confirm my injuries.

My wrist is broken in three places.


They placed it on a splint during the ER visit. It needs to be placed in a permanent cast. But it was too swollen on the night of the injuries so they need the swelling to go down. I should be getting the permanent cast in a few days. The ER doctor said my wrist would need therapy to make sure it heals right.

My back. Looking at the pictures is no fun. But the L1 vertebra has a compression fracture, and a chip fracture. I provided images below to show what these fractures look like.


They released me after a few hours and told me to take care of myself. They did not send me home in a back brace. I do not understand why. And after three days of painful immobility, I asked Donna to purchase a back brace on Amazon. She said, “I will do better than that.” And the next day, she went into town and bought a back brace from the pharmacy.

“How has it really been Nathan?”

I do not like to complain. I give God all of the glory for preserving me. But this is a journey. And I know that the end part of the this journey is going to be better than it is now.

That means that some of the pain I am feeling right now will not linger. I believe that. However, I do want a chronicle my journey with honesty. So allow me to share some of the pain challenges that I’m facing.

The back brace has helped a little. But everyday movements are very painful, and to try to sit up is almost impossible. Even with a brace on. I am also using crutches to try to distribute some of the weight off my back. Walking to the bathroom with tiny steps is a chore.

And trying to relieve yourself is also a chore, because it requires the muscles that are found around the torso. .. which also tighten around the broken vertebra’s when you want to push… So… Yeah…the bathroom is a challenge.

…But  I can do all things, right folks?

The Journey Begins

I have just entered a new journey. On the night of November 1, 2017, I broke my back and my wrist. And then it became my turn.

But I am also hoping that God will break some other things. I pray that He will break away all of the barnacles that hinder my service for Him. I also pray that He will be glorified as He carries my family and I through this new and difficult journey.

My friends, I am forever thankful for your prayers. Also thank you for the encouraging words, and the gifts of love and support. Donna and I are facing financial medical challenges with this injury so if you feel led to help us weather this storm, it is greatly appreciated. I thank those of you who have already gave.

I know that God is going to see me through, because I have a job to do. And together with your prayers and support, we are going to get it done.

God bless.

In His service,